Protect Your Ride: Long-term Motorcycle Storage Tips

Al Harris
February 18, 2022
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If it was up to you, you’d be riding your motorcycle everyday. But sometimes life has other plans.

There are lots of scenarios where you might have to store your motorcycle for an extended period of time: getting deployed, suffering an injury, living in a place with frigid winter—the list goes on. No matter the situation, you’re going to want to protect your prized investment by storing your motorcycle the right way.

Improper motorcycle storage can lead to big problems. The last thing you want is to retrieve your bike and need to spend unnecessary time or money getting it road ready again. So how do you make sure you motorcycle stays in good condition during long-term storage?

Follow the guidelines below if you want to keep your motorcycle in prime condition when not in use. Don’t just throw it in a storage unit and forget it about it. Make sure to follow all the steps below and you’ll be ready to hit the road without delay.

Choosing the Right Storage Space For Your Motorcycle

First and foremost, you need to find a suitable storage space for your motorcycle. You need a space that protects your motorcycle from the elements, in particular you want to avoid moisture and extreme temperatures. Moisture causes rust and corrosion, and extreme temperatures can causes gaskets and hoses to turn brittle and crack. An insulated garage should do the trick, but a climate-controlled space is even better.

Can I store my motorcycle in my storage unit?

Storing your motorcycle in a car storage unit is a fantastic option if you do not have a garage at home. A climate-controlled storage unit is ideal, as it will maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels all year long.

What size storage unit do I need for my motorcycle?

A 5×10 storage unit is the ideal size for storing a motorcycle. This unit size will also provide additional space for storing any additional riding gear you aren’t using or other personal items.

How much does it cost to store a motorcycle?

On average, a 5×10 unit costs $79 a month. A non-climate controlled unit will cost a little bit less, a climate controlled unit may cost a little bit more.

Can I work on my motorcycle in my storage unit?

Some facilities will allow you to perform maintenance on your motorcycle inside your storage unit, and some will not. Make sure to call and ask before paying for your unit if you’re planning to do that. If so, you’ll probably want a 5×15 or 10×10 unit so you have some room to maneuver and keep your tools.

Indoor Motorcycle Storage vs Outdoor Motorcycle Storage

Sure, outdoor motorcycle storage is an option. Many self-storage facilities offer outdoor parking spaces for rent. Covered parking spots will provide some protection from the weather, but it’s not ideal. If you really care about your motorcycle, pony up for the indoor storage unit and you won’t be sorry.

Either way, you’ll want to invest in a high quality motorcycle cover. This will provide an additional layer of protection from the elements, but especially pests like rodents that chew on everything given the chance.

How To Prepare Your Motorcycle For Long-Term & Winter Storage

With your storage space secured, it’s time to prepare your bike for storage. Winterizing your motorcycle for cold weather storage is essential, but you should still perform the process any time of year you need to stash your motorcycle. You never know, you might end up keeping it stored for longer than you think.

Clean Your Motorcycle Well

Never store your motorcycle without washing it first. Caked on dirt and dead bugs will eat away your paint over time. Dirt also traps moisture, which causes rust. Dry your motorcycle completely and add a coat of wax to provide even more rust protection.

Want to go the extra mile? Coat exposed metal surfaces and engine parts with WD-40. Also clean out your carburetors before storing. Oil residue will solidify into gunk in cold weather.

Prep the Fuel System Before Storing Your Motorcycle

When prepping your bike for long-term storage do this: fill up the tank completely and add a fuel stabilizer.

A partially filled tank can cause condensation to form on the inside of the tank walls, leading to rust and corrosion. Keeping a full fuel tank is the easiest way to keep this from happening. Adding a fuel stabilizer will keep the gas from going bad (We recommend STA-BIL). After adding the stabilizer, run your engine for a few minutes to make sure it circulates through the fuel system.

Another option to prevent moisture build up is to completely drain your gas tank and fuel lines, but this method leaves more room for error if you aren’t a seasoned mechanic. Storing in a climate-controlled unit will minimize the risk as well.

Change Motorcycle Oil Before Storing

It’s a good practice to change your engine oil before storing for a long period of time. Run the bike after adding fresh oil to circulate it through the engine. Swap out the oil filter while you are at it so you can start fresh when you retrieve your bike. Remember, a clean engine is a happy engine!

Ready the Coolant System for Winter

You know what would suck? Getting your bike out of storage and finding a cracked or corroded radiator. Don’t let that happen to you. Top off your coolant system with enough anti-freeze to prevent your engine from freezing over the winter months.

Take Care of Your Tires When Storing Your Motorcycle

Want to replace your tires when you are ready to ride again? Didn’t think so. Improper storage will lead to flat spots, which can form in as little as 30 days.

Before storing, inflate your tires to the maximum pressure recommended by the manufacturer. This won’t completely stop flat spots from forming, but it will buy you some time. To better protect tires against flat spots, you’ll need to use a center stand to keep the weight off them.

If you don’t have a center stand, return to your storage unit once a month to rotate your tires. You should also place a board or moving blanket between your wheels and the ground to prevent direct contact to the cement floor, especially in a unit without climate control. That’s because freezing temps can cause the rubber to crack and make the tires more susceptible to flat spotting.

Mind Your Motorcycle Battery When Storing

Your battery will drain when not in use, especially in cold temperatures. Disconnect your battery when storing and connect it to a trickle charger. This device, also known as a battery tender, will keep your battery charged when not in use. Not all storage units have an electrical outlet, so you may have to bring the battery home with you to keep it charged.

Beware of Rats When Storing Your Motorcycle

Aside from the weather, pesky rodents are the next biggest threat to your ride. During the winter rats and mice seek out warm places to nest—like the inside of your exhaust pipe. Given the chance, rodents will pee and poop all over your ride and chew on tubes and wires.

Use an exhaust plug, plastic bag or steel wool to block access to your exhaust. Remember to remove any obstructions before cranking up your chopper for your next excursion. Use a motorcycle cover as well, even when storing indoors. A few strategically placed traps are also a good idea to keep rats from hijacking your ride.

Hit the Road!

Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to hit the road without any hassle. Your motorcycle is likely one of your most prized possessions, so making the effort to store it properly is a no-brainer. Want to save money on your motorcycle storage space? Use SpareFoot to compare prices near you to find the best deal.



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